The North Face is attempting to do something that many have tried, but few have succeeded: compete head-to-head with Gore-Tex in the waterproof / breathable fabric category. So we talked with Scott Mellin, the Global General Manager of Mountain Sports at The North Face, about their new fabric technology, Futurelight, the ideas behind it; what sets it apart in the waterproof / breathable fabric market; sustainability practices related to Futurelight; some stories from athlete testing, and much more.
On our latest “Reviewing the Reviewer” episode of GEAR:30, Jonathan Ellsworth talks to our mountain bike reviewer, David Golay, about how he went from playing sports in upstate New York, to researching metal alloys in Australia, to reviewing for BLISTER, and he shares a great story starring Jed Yeiser (of previous Blister podcast episodes fame).
Today, Marker unveiled their brand-new Duke PT binding, so we discuss the new binding and where it fits with respect to the Shift MNC and CAST Freetour System; some big new changes at GORE; the new GORE-TEX Pro vs. The North Face Futurelight; the appalling behavior of backcountry.com; several new skis from Moment, Blizzard, and Prior; and more.
Gore-Tex has been the leader in waterproof fabrics for decades, and today, they’re announcing a complete overhaul of their flagship fabric, Gore-Tex Pro. So this week we went to Banff, Alberta, and sat down with the category manager of Gore’s “Pro” line, Mark McKinnie, for an in-depth discussion about the new fabrics. We talk about what makes the new Gore Pro unique; the 3 different versions of Gore Pro; Gore’s intensive validation and field-testing processes; how the new ‘Pro’ fits into Gore’s sustainability goals; and much more.
How do the world’s elite ski racers and their technicians squeeze every drop of performance out of their skis? We sat down with Cameron Smith who runs the race department for Head USA to learn about all the major aspects of ski tuning including base vs edge angles, base prep, and waxing. We also discuss why World Cup racers have 50 skis per discipline; the elusive “speed wagon”; and the delicate balance of science and superstition in ski racing.
We answer a bunch of the questions you submitted, then assess some of the product reviews from several of the other ski review publications — and one gear recommendation website.
We just released our new 19/20 BLISTER Winter Buyer’s Guide, and given that it’s over 200 pages long, there’s a lot to talk about. So we’re going to have a 2-part conversation about the Guide, and here in part 1, we’re going to discuss some of our Blister “Best Of” selections; and some of the products that just missed the cut; some general trends and takeaways from putting this big book together, and we find out the real reason why Luke prefers mittens to gloves.
Luke Koppa and Sam Shaheen pose questions & rate the answers of Blister founder, Jonathan Ellsworth, about being charged by a bear; nearly burning his house down; teaching philosophy; his favorite gear in the world; and (of course) the things he’s better at than Sam Shaheen.
We’ve been working on a special project with Folsom Skis, and it’s finally time to discuss the details with Folsom’s Mike McCabe. We also talk about Folsom’s (insane?) new plan to build and deliver custom skis in 2-3 days; go over a few highlights from the 19/20 Folsom lineup; and we ask Mike how much of a nightmare it was to work with us on this project.
We talk to WNDR Alpine’s founder, Matt Sterbenz, and brand manager, Xan Marshland, about the creation of and the future plans for WNDR Alpine; its relation to the biotech company, Checkerspot; and we dive deep into the details of their new ski, the Intention 110.
Why are more and more companies making products out of wool? What makes it unique from other fibers? And how is merino wool different from regular wool? We talk to Icebreaker’s Josh Vaughan about these questions; wool’s environmental impact; the variety of wool types and how they differ; and he provides some amazingly in-depth insight about wool’s unique properties.
Crosson Skis is a small, new company that’s making some very big claims. So we talk to their founder, Chase Englehart, about the origins of Crosson; what makes their skis different — and better; building skis outside of Seattle; working with athletes like Bobby Brown and Banks Gilberti; and their 19/20 lineup.
How do elite ski racers like Marcel Hirsher, Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller, and Daron Rahlves “feel” their gear, and their ski boots in particular? We talk to Matt Manser about this; forward lean; ‘static’ power straps vs. ‘elastic’ Booster Straps; whether WC skiers or WC DH mtn bikers are pickier about their equipment; and more.
Jonathan Ellsworth, Luke Koppa, & Sam Shaheen argue about the new Volkl Mantra 102 and how it compares to the M5 Mantra; discuss with more civility the Line Vision 98; Dalbello Lupo Pro HD ski boot; Camp Nano 22 vs. Orbit Wire carabiners; and close with several extremely random reviews.
Today we’re launching a new series on GEAR:30 called, “Reviewing the Reviewer,” where we’ll ask Blister reviewers questions, then score their answers to determine a cumulative grade for each reviewer. First up, BLISTER managing editor, Luke Koppa. (And ON3P Skis founder, Scott Andrus, wrote in with some bonus questions for Luke, too.)
How much do you actually know about the clothes in your closet, and the stuff we all wear to go play in the mountains? In our new “What You’re Wearing” miniseries, we’re shining a light on the most foundational part of apparel: the fibers. And in part 1, we dive into the world synthetic fibers with Sara Ellis from Gore (the makers of GORE-TEX).
We talk to DPS Skis founder, Stephan Drake, about the new DPS 19/20 product lineup, and two new skis — that incorporate a brand-new DPS construction — they’re introducing for their “Dreamtime” event. Stephan also breaks news about their “Koala” skis, gives an update on the DPS ski boot they’re working on, and shares some new developments with DPS Phantom.
We’re talking again with Atomic Ski Boots product manager, Matt Manser, about the messy world of ski boot flex ratings; the actual differences between some brands’ 120 and 130 rated boot; how Atomic arrives at their own flex ratings; the next areas of innovation that Atomic is focused on, and more.
Ski boots are made of plastic, and different plastics feel and perform very differently from one another. So we get deep into the details with Atomic Ski Boots product manager, Matt Manser, to help you figure out which plastics are used in your ski boots, and the pros & cons & general performance characteristics of different plastics — which will help you understand why you might like or dislike your current boots, and what you ought to be looking for in your next pair.
Sam Shaheen and Luke Koppa discuss mind-boggling new technologies like titanium-coated fibres; inventive sustainability stories involving recycled medical supplies; and the noteworthy trends — both good and bad — that they saw this week at the OR show.
Things kind of go off the rails in our latest GEAR:30 episode, with topics ranging from the ON3P Woodsman 108, K2 Mindbender 99Ti, new ski boots, and heat-moldable hiking shoes, to very contentious debates about Hard Seltzer, energy bar flavors, and Smashburger.
GPS communication devices can be the difference between life and death in remote places. So we talk with Bivy’s Pitt Grewe about the different types of technology and devices on the market; how these devices can affect decision making; satellite networks; complicated payment plans; and … Pitt’s impressive skills as a DJ.
Last Saturday, Sam Shaheen skied three different lines in one day on the Colorado 14er, Torrey’s Peak. Jonathan Ellsworth sits down with Sam to discuss the details of this “Torrey’s Peak Triple Crown”; the ‘D-Scale’ of rating ski descents; the gear, apparel, and food he used on the mountain; and the safety and decision-making process throughout the day.
Jonathan Ellsworth talks about testing the ON3P Woodsman 108 and Black Crows Navis while heli skiing with Eleven Experience in Iceland, and Sam Shaheen and Luke Koppa talk about their time on the Volkl Mantra 102 & Revolt 121, Faction Candide 5.0, and more.
Supercapacitors, Venturi valves, and scary-high currents — this week we discuss airbag design and technology with Black Diamond’s Director of Design Engineering.
This week we talk to Patagonia’s senior material developer, Pasha Whitmire, about how Patagonia designs, develops, and tests their technical fabrics; myths surrounding waterproof / breathable materials; why the future of fabric development lies in sustainability; the advantages and disadvantages of working with big names like Gore-Tex; and a whole lot more outerwear geekery.
Near-death experiences, avalanche airbags, and changing risk tolerance — this week on GEAR:30 we talk to mountain guide and Mammut’s safety expert, Doug Workman, about life and survival in the mountains.